Garfield's AdReview: Brawny spots weak on wit, but clean up on sales message

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We have this friend-we'll call him Jinx-who laughs inappropriately at commercials. He's a person who ordinarily displays a sound sense of humor, but who often howls at some manifestly unfunny moment in some stupid TV spot.

We think about Jinx often.

We thought of him in Cannes, as we watched many excellent 30-second comedies that aren't ads, and we think of him as we sit at our own television watching not terribly amusing ads that do happen to be rather sales-intensive ... and which we are sure (sigh) would make our pal laugh out loud. ("Yo, Jinx, whatever you're on ... do you have any left?")

And, of course, we wonder often about whether there are more viewers out there like the audiences at Cannes-which don't seem to discriminate between copy points and punch lines-or like Jinx, who doesn't require cutting-edge humor to pay attention to the actual selling message. We fear the answer is the latter.

We therefore hold our breath, and our nose, to award 2 1/2 stars to the ostensibly comical but not particularly funny Fallon, New York, campaign for new-and-improved Brawny. It's not the kind of wit you expect from Fallon; in fact, it's not witty at all. But it will make Jinx laugh, and it will sell paper towels.

One spot opens in a messy kitchen, where a petite housewife is cooking spaghetti and surveying the damage.

"This mess calls for Brawny," she says, and reaches for the paper towels . As her hand nears the roll, an electric charge jumps from it to her, magically endowing her with a massive right arm-something between Rosie the Riveter and Popeye the Sailorman. This arm drags her all around the kitchen, cleaning, as she goes "Whoaaaaaaa!!!"

Laugh, Jinx, laugh! She's a cleanin' demon! Look, Jinx, there's five of her! Then the voice-over kicks in: "Only Brawny paper towels have scrubbing circles for scrubbing strength, and its tight-weave construction packs fibers extra tight so it's extra strong." As he speaks, we see closeups of the quilted circles and a microscopic look at interwoven paper fibers. Whether this represents actual improvement or some phony USP is hard to say, but it will generate a lot of trial.

And probably, from the Jinxes of the world also a lot of laughs. "I'll never get used to this," our heroine huffs in exhaustion, because, phew!, what a workout! Then more voice-over: "Brawny. It might be too strong."

Whatever. It certainly isn't too funny. Nor are two other spots, which show a hunky Brawny guy romancing his unseen woman by cleaning up grime and nasty spills. What's most interesting is that the female concept of hunkitude-or at least Georgia Pacific's concept-hasn't seemed much to change. Just substitute a five o'clock shadow for the mustache, and you still have what the client cheerfully admits about the lumberjack on the package: He looks like a porn star.

The new package is due to arrive by winter, and we shall see. If he's another refugee from the Village People, Jinx might not laugh. But we will.


Fallon, New York

Ad Review Rating: 2.5 stars

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